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Vaughan, Ont., crash: Parents remember 'very happy' children

The mother of three children killed alongside their grandfather in a suspected drunk-driving crash says she wants her children to be remembered as "very happy."

St. Joachim held 2 masses Tuesday for students killed in Vaughan crash

Vaughan crash victims remembered

7 years ago
Duration 2:30
Masses held Tuesday to remember 3 children and their grandfather who died in a car crash north of Toronto on Sunday

The mother of three children killed alongside their grandfather in a suspected drunk-driving crash says she wants her children to be remembered as "very happy."

The children's mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, spoke to reporters outside her family's home following two masses held by the school that her two eldest children attended.

St. Joachim Catholic Elementary School in Brampton, Ont., held a pair of masses Tuesday morning to offer prayers for the three children and their grandfather. 

Daniel Neville-Lake, 9, his little brother Harry, 5, who both attended the school, their sister Milly, 2, and their 65-year-old grandfather were killed Sunday afternoon when the van they were riding in collided with an SUV at the intersection of Kirby Road and Kipling Avenue north of Kleinburg in Vaughan.

"We want them to be remembered as ... they were very happy," Neville-Lake said on Tuesday afternoon.

Harry was "happy go lucky," while Daniel "was very sharp and he was just always so happy and cheerful," she said.

"They woke up with smiles. Even if they went to bed, they never went to bed angry. They made a point of saying to each other, 'I love you.' There was always lots of 'I love yous.'"

Milly was learning to express her love for her family, Neville-Lake said, something the children learned from their grandfather.

"My father taught us that," she said. "He was a very gentle man."

Father James Cherickal, pastor at St. Anne's Church in Brampton, presided over the two services. He said that while the younger children may not fully understand the tragedy, they were "quite quiet" through the masses. 

"They were very much affected by it," Cherickal told reporters.

Of the children's parents, Cherickal said that members of the public can best support them with prayers.

"They are people of great faith and they need the prayers of the people," he said.

'He would light up a room'

On Monday, students were given the opportunity to submit poems, stories, paintings and other artwork for a memory table to remember their former classmates, according to Nancy Marshall from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

"This is an incredibly sad day for the St. Joachim school community," Marshall said on Tuesday morning.

"As a Catholic school community, we really rely on our faith to bring us together and support each other through these tough times."

The board's tragic events response team, which includes social workers, was at the school again on Tuesday to help students and staff cope with the tragedy, Marshall said. 

"Daniel and Harry were very well-known at the school and well-liked, and will be missed greatly," she said.

Angela Yonan attended one of the masses. Her son, who was in Harry's class, was sad to lose his friend.

A memorial table set up inside St. Joachim Elementary School in Brampton pays tribute to the Neville-Lake family. (Submitted by Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board)

"He said he wasn't finished playing with Harry," Yonan told CBC News.

Yonan described Harry as a "superfunny" boy who had lots of energy.

"When he would smile, he would light up a room."

Parents dropping off their children outside the school on Tuesday offered their condolences to the family.

"It is awful, of course," said Imran Solomon.

"May God give them the peace, patience and comfort to deal with this."

His wife, Sumbal, said she can't imagine what the children's parents are going through.

"It's so sad and it's heartbreaking," she said. "As a parent, no one can imagine that kind of tragedy, losing all of your children." 

The children's grandmother and great-grandmother were injured in the crash, and remain in hospital, where they are recovering from their injuries. Two people riding in a third vehicle involved in the crash were not hurt.

Neville-Lake and her husband are starting to plan funerals. A Go Fund Me page has been set up for the family that has raised more than $130,000 as of midday on Tuesday.

Three children in the Neville-Lake Family died after a devastating crash north of Toronto. From left to right are Daniel 9, Milly, 2 and Harry, 5. A 29-year-old man faces 18 charges, including impaired driving causing death. (Facebook)

Marco Muzzo charged

Marco Muzzo, 29, of King Township is facing 18 charges in relation to the crash, including impaired driving and dangerous driving causing death.

He appeared Monday in a Newmarket court, but his lawyer said little to reporters other than that he will mount a vigorous defence to the charges.

Muzzo is expected back in court on Friday.

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